Friday, December 31, 2010

Wishes for 2011

Today is New Year's Eve, and I'm starting to think of the year ahead.  2010 was a good year in many ways and in others, it was a letdown.  I'm looking to make some changes in 2011, and even though I have reservations, I'm excited about what is to come. 

I'm proud of what I have accomplished in the last twelve months though.  I went to several new places (Washington DC, Baltimore and Niagara Falls), had my New Haven guide featured on Design*Sponge and even registered for the AWP Writer's Conference, which is being held this coming February in Washington DC.  Hopefully, this year will be the year that I learn to sew, take a few cooking/baking classes and finally move towards New York.

People from all around the world have been leaving their hopes and wishes for 2011 on the Times Square Visitor's Center Wishing Wall.  With the snowstorm, I didn't have a chance to go into Manhattan this week but I would have loved to leave my message for the new year on this wall with thousands of others.  The wishes will be dropped with the rest of the confetti at midnight tonight so that the streets will be swirling with hopefulness for at least a few minutes, which is really one of the loveliest images ever.  

I wish for you all a safe and wonderful year full with love, happiness and laughter. 

Photos courtesy of Flickr and Popsugar

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To Be Truly Blessed

For the last few days, we've been snowed in here in Connecticut.  Anthony and I shoveled out our own cars then moved on to helping family members dig out. Now that the snow is melting, things are returning to normal.  Anthony is back to work, I'm cleaning the apartment and trying to write a bit, and we're planning to see a few movies before next weekend. 

As I clear out the many gift bags and presents from our living room, it's very clear to me how blessed I was this holiday season.  Everyone loved the gifts that I gave them, which was really thrilling for me--it's the best present to know that you bought someone the perfect gift.  I was able to spend time with so many different friends and family members, and even though the holiday season was rushed this year, it seemed like everyone was relaxed and just happy to celebrate with loved ones. 

Anthony outdid himself this year and completely spoiled me.  In addition to the cookbook, DVDs, purse (he went back to Anthropologie and bought the clutch I had been staring at!) and stickers (I love stickers just as much I did when I was five years old), he bought me a new laptop.  It's lotus pink and absolutely perfect.  It took Anthony a while to convince me to keep it but I still feel like I don't deserve and am in awe of how generous he is.  I can only hopes that he likes the gifts that I bought for him half as much.

And with only two days left in 2010, I'm already looking towards 2011, and planning to make it a fabulous year, full with optimism, happiness, new adventures and above all, lots of love. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mugs for All Occasions

This year, I bought several mugs to give out as Christmas presents.  Mugs are something that I don't normally buy for other people but that I always want to buy for myself.  Anthony and I have a bunch already and since it's only the two of us, we obviously have more than enough.  But mugs really reflect a person's personality.  Based on the style, color or graphics on the outside, you can tell a bit about a person. 

Bon Appetit had a post on their blog today featuring 6 of their favorites mugs to give as last-minute gifts.  I love them all but here are a few of my favorites:

This one is simple and classic but I love that you can see through it.  These are the same type of mug that the Cheesecake Factory uses and I order coffee when we're there just to see the cream mix with the black coffee. 

I really love these Bridge and Tunnel mugs from Fish's Eddy.  (I bought one of my bosses an awesome New York Times crossword puzzle mug from there for Christmas).  I like the drawings and the 'city vibe' I get when I look at them.

And here is a Pantone mug for art-loving, decorating people.  I don't paint or redecorate very often but I still think it's awesome to drink out of a paint chip mug.  I would choose a different color though, maybe a blue or a peach. 

Do you have a favorite mug? Right now, my most-used mug is a huge blue bowl-like cup that I've had since college.  I wonder what that says about me. 

Photos courtesy of Bon Appetit

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Art of Snowflakes

In my parents' house, there is a picture window in the dining room that faces the driveway.  When my brother and I were young, my mother would come up with an idea and we would cut and glue construction paper to make a festive Christmas scene.  It didn't seem to matter that the only people who could see it were our next door neighbors.  It was always a ton of fun and really signalled the start of the holiday season. 

Last weekend, I tried to create decorations for the windows in our apartment.  I thought that intricate snowflakes on vivid paper would be great.  I found this great tutorial on How About Orange, one of my favorite craft sites, and started cutting.  Two hours later, I had 6 ugly, mangled snowflakes and nothing to hang on our windows.

I was puzzled.  What had I done wrong?  Well, first of all, for years, I've been folding circles into quarters or eighths and cutting snowflakes from those.  After reading a bunch of articles, it looks like many people start with squares instead.  Also, I am not using the best kind of scissor so my shapes are dull and I'm not able to make very small cuts to add details.  Now that I have an idea of what I did wrong, I am ready to try again. 

If the snowflakes in this next batch are presentable, I'll post a picture of our living room windows.  Was my family the one who did this? Do you remembering cutting out snowflakes as a kid?  What was your secret?

Photo courtesy of How About Orange

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Door-to-Door Pie

I'm loving Etsy seller AllJarredUp, who makes baked goods in mason jars.  It would so make my day to find a homemade apple pie in a little jar on my doorstep. 

Via Cup of Jo

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Season's Top Chef

Is anyone watching Top Chef: All Stars on Bravo? I previously posted about how excited I was about this season and two episodes in, I'm still excited about it.  The competitors are all extremely skilled and ready to compete.  But I think that there are two things that have made this season interesting even though it's just starting:  one, the challenges are more creative than they've been in a long time and two, it's very difficult to guess which chef will be eliminated because they are all so talented.

During a regular season, the challenges are pedestrian, the kind of dilemma that I find myself in once a week (cooking in a short amount of time! with no meat! with limited sleep! in a tiny kitchen!).  These have been different and new to the viewers and chefs.  It's also new for them to be cooking among people who are all very talented.  Usually, I can guess which chefs will be in the top 6 after the first episode.  Last night's elimination of Jennifer Carroll, who was a favorite to win, really surprised me.  She seemed stressed out and defiant in a way that she never appeared to be during her actual Top Chef season.  Maybe she was thrown off by working in a team or cooking for kids.  In any case, the fact that she is gone is evidence that no one is safe on the show this time around.  Good luck to my favorite chefs (I'm rooting for most of them, especially Carla, Trey and both Tiffany and Tiffani), and I'll keep tuning in to be surprised!

Photo courtesy of Bravo/NYMagazine

Monday, December 6, 2010

Car Costumes

On my way to work this morning, not only was it flurrying, but I drove passed a car with reindeer antlers and a red nose on the front grill, my first of the season.  I love the idea of dressing up your car for the holidays (I saw a bunny costume on a VW this past Easter too).  It's truly looking like Christmas out there!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Panda at the Atlanta Zoo!

The Atlanta Zoo has just released pictures of its newest panda cub and honestly, I am completely enamored by this animal.

I have a true love for panda bears.  Anthony and I have seen the pandas at the San Diego Zoo on two separate occasions, and we even stood in the freezing cold during a snow storm last year to see the pandas at the National Zoo in Washington DC before they were sent back to China.  I think I'm drawn to their expressive faces (maybe it's the black circles around their eyes?) and I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've watched more than my fair share of panda documentaries.  They are rare and adorable (unless provoked, right? I mean, they are so cute, sometimes people forget that they can be really dangerous) and the cubs are some of the cutest animals around. Also, I dare you to watch this clip and not feel cheerful for at least an entire two minutes afterward. 

If you need a pick-me-up later today, feel free to visit the Zooborns site for more panda cub pictures.  You're welcome!

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Zoo and AP/Yahoo